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3 Ways Google Glass Will Transform Government

If you’ve seen the commercials, you already know that Google Glass can record your daughter’s first steps, navigate you down a winding road on your mountain bike, and even allow you to virtually “hang out” with friends while jumping out of an airplane. But did you know Google Glass could help deliver critical government services?

Google Glass, which is still under development, is a pair of computerized glasses that gives the wearer the capabilities of a smartphone, in a display right in front of their eyes. With Glass, you can take pictures, record videos, hold videoconferences, navigate cities, and ask questions. You can do all of this simply by saying “Okay, Glass” and then voicing the command.

How is Google Glass going to impact government? Google Glass recently partnered with Mutualink, the secure communications network development group, to develop Google Glass technology for government personnel.

What results does the partnership envision? Here are some potential applications for Google Glass in government:

  • Crisis Management: Google Glass would give first responders access to critical information instantly without impeding their mission. An EMT could ask “Okay, Glass. Anything in John Smith’s medical records that I should know before administering CPR?” A firefighter could have a building’s layout in front of his or her eyes before running into a burning structure. A police officer could access security camera footage to monitor a crisis while chasing a suspect. In both cases, this gives the officer and the firefighter improved situational awareness in emergency situations.
  • Customer Service: Google Glass would allow constituents give feedback to government in real time. With Glass, a user can share the view of their display with friends on other devices. Author Gary Shteyngart wrote a piece for The New Yorker about his experience as a Google Glass “explorer” (Google’s term for a tester). Shteyngart used this feature while viewing an art exhibit, allowing his friend to view and comment on the artwork through her computer. Constituents could use this feature to send real time views and commentary on national parks, roads and other government-run facilities, so personnel could address issues right away.
  • Enhanced Training: Another explorer was Dr. Rafael Grossman, an Indiana surgeon who shared his experience with The Federal Times. He discussed how Glass helps with mentorship and training, especially for hard-to-visualize tasks. With Glass, he performed a complex medical procedure for a younger colleague working from an isolated medical center. Perhaps software trainings could become as simple as an IT professional wearing a pair of Google Glass and showing his colleagues what it looks like to confront a cybersecurity threat.

Michael Wengrovitz, VP of innovation at Mutualink, hopes that this partnership will “enable anywhere, anytime communications and information sharing” using a hands-free device, while avoiding technical incompatibilities between different systems, reported InformationWeek.

What do you think? Will government embrace Google Glass? Would it help you do your job better?

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Pat Fiorenza

Great post – this is some really cool technology and I’m excited to see how government can leverage Google glass. To me, the most intriguing example you gave is the situational awareness idea for first responders. Really interesting to think how an organization can connect data, leverage the cloud, mobile and Glass to give first responders the information they need instantly during a crisis.

David B. Grinberg

Nice post, Kathryn!

I concur with Pat’s comments. Following are a few general observations:

  • While Google Glass sounds awesome and revolutionary, let’s remember that it’s still in preliminary stages. Thus it’s way too early to make any definitive assessments on how it may impact gov.
  • Gov is almost always behind the private sector in adopting and adapting to new technology. Just like at the current situation with mobile devices and BYOD policy. If gov really wants to be more efficienct, effective, expeditious and accountable across-the-board it should find the funds to provide all eligible and qualified personnel to provide with smartphones and tablets — again, completely paid for by gov.
  • As new technology continues to evolve and proliferate in society, gov will have no choice but to join in or be left in the dust. Therefore, if Google Glass lives up to all the hype and high expectations then gov will eventually catch on — although it may be one of the last institutions to do so (at least based on recent history).
Kathryn David

Thanks so much for your comments. We can all agree that Google Glass has the potential to impact government, but we cannot assume government is on board. I think the partnership with Mutualink is promising, but it’s only a first step.

Beth Clay

Kathryn, thanks so much for your coverage of this important and interesting development in public safety technology. As Marketing Director for Mutualink, I thought it might be helpful to just clarify that Mutualink’s access to Google Glass came not through a partnership per se, but rather through the Glass Explorer program sponsored by Google to solicit testers. Our work with it has been rewarding and shows promise for the integration of GoogleGlass with our resource sharing platform for first responder, the military and the private sector, as well. Anyone interested in learning more can find us at the http://policeinnovationconference.com/ in Cambridge, MA on Sept 16 and 17, 2013.

Kathryn David

Thank you so much Beth for the clarification. The diversity of sectors involved in the Google Glass explorers program truly shows how many amazing uses for the technology is.